Forward Thinking

'Fred Who' Takes Shot at GOP Race

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

  • Print
  • Share Share
Fred Karger

Never heard of Fred Karger? He doesn’t mind. Most people haven’t — so few, in fact, that the slogan of his unlikely Republican presidential campaign, and the title of his campaign biography, is, “Fred Who?”

As a GOP presidential candidate, Karger is an anomaly. Not only does he have zero name recognition, Karger is Jewish. Plus, he says he is the first openly gay person to ever run for president as a Republican.

“The younger people are complete social moderates and resent Rick Santorum and that type of politics,” Karger said, referring to the former Pennsylvania senator who is known for his social conservatism, particularly on issues of homosexuality.

Karger, who calls himself a Rockefeller Republican, is pro-choice, supports gay marriage, and wants American troops out of Afghanistan. His family has roots in Chicago, where his great grandfather founded the local Jewish federation. Karger lives in Laguna Beach, Calif. and is a member of a Reform synagogue there called Kol Ami.

Jeff Fladen, executive director of the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire, said that Karger has made efforts to reach out to the state’s small Jewish community, calling regularly to chat.

A former political adviser and campaign worker, Karger has never held elected office. He is barely registering in the polls, and has raised $350,000 as of the most recent Federal Elections Commission filings next to Romney’s $32 million.

“That is my weak link,” Karger allowed. “I self-finance much of this. I’m not big on fundraising.”

It’s probably not a great sign for a candidate’s chances that he calls the Forward unbidden days before a key primary, as Karger did. But Karger, who was in Nashua, N.H., campaigning for the January 10 primaries there, says he has a strategy, and he hopes to win.

“I’m not delusional,” Karger told the Forward. “I know it’s a big long shot for me to be successful and be the Republican nominee…My argument is, just let me in one debate and, with this mediocre field, with a little pizzazz and humor and good command of the issues, I think I might be able to register.”

Karger has yet to get that shot at a debate.

Meanwhile, his supporters see another benefit in his candidacy. Howard Kaplan, a retired antique store owner, hosted a recent fundraiser for Karger in New York City. Kaplan said that he hoped Karger’s run would serve as an example for gay youth.

“The main message was: If [Karger] can run for president, then you can do what you want and you’re important,” Kaplan said.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: fred Karger, gay, jewish, republican, rick santorum, rockefeller, the jewish vote 2 2012

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.